Monthly Archives: October 2014

Life in Kigali: Week four!

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Life in Kigali: Week four!

Firstly I wanted to apologize for not updating my blog for so long! It has been quite busy here so I have found it hard to update my personal blog. I have however been updating the team blog ( http://aeekigaliautumn2014.wordpress.com/) so go and check that out if you want a little more detail on the work we are doing in Kigali.

So I am going to be brutally honest. A lot of people will try to sugarcoat volunteering, telling you only the good things that have been happening and conveniently missing out the issues and struggles. I am so guilty of this! The problem is there are issues and you will get frustrated. We are in a new country, a new environment and we have to deal with lots of different problems. Such as culture shock, the heat, the food, being ill and sometimes a feeling of uselessness. For the first week I felt so useless, lazy, unable to do the work and weak. We were doing a lot of field work such as irrigation (a fancy way of saying watering), planting banana trees, visiting beneficiaries of AEE (African Evangelistic Enterprise) and being asked advice when quite frankly I just didn’t know what to say (or that I was qualified to say anything).

Planting banana trees in Gicaca, it was wonderful but hard work!

Planting banana trees in Gicaca, it was wonderful but hard work!

It was really hard to get used to, these were things I had never done and I just felt like such a failure. To top it all off getting work for us to do was very difficult, we couldn’t teach English to the children until November as they had exams, the staff never seemed to have office work for us to do (through no fault of their own) and it was all very slow. That meant I had that much more time to over think everything, I wondered what I was doing here, why did I think I could help anyone, I should just go home.

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All the wonderful people who work at Gicaca banana plantation

Luckily I had a supportive team to help me through it all. In fact we were probably feeling similar so it was almost easier, to know that I wasn’t suffering alone. That sounds awful but there really is nothing worse than feeling like no-one can understand what you are going through. These feelings would be like a fleeting wind, there one minute and gone the next. It was certainly an emotional roller coaster. However as I became busier and more used to the work we were doing I started to feel much better about the experience. I felt like we were really helping, even if it was in a small way. The understanding that we were building on the previous teams work was helpful.

I think that the impact we make cannot always be seen. We may never see that banana tree we planted fully grown, we may not even be able to taste its bananas. But that doesn’t matter, we put into motion something tangible and real. Just because you do not see the effect doesn’t mean its not there. The advice we gave to those beneficiaries could have been invaluable to them. They might put our words into actions and this could benefit their lives abundantly. The point is that we must believe our actions and words are important, they have an effect on the people around us and they shape our world, which in turn will shape the wider world. This is why we need to think carefully about what we say and do, and be thankful for every opportunity we get to change the worlds around us. Not everyone is lucky enough to do this and not everyone has a say in their own world.

So do not worry if you feel discouraged, I believe it is just a part of the process. We might not change the world immediately but we can all put into motion something that will. All you need is a drop to create a ripple.

I feel like this bible verse is appropriate: 1 Corinthians 15:58- Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Murakose (Thank-you) for reading and God bless you

Sarah

xxx

Just one of the many beautiful places in Kigali!

Just one of the many beautiful places in Kigali!

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Living in Kigali: The start of our placement

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Muraho (or hello in English). I am currently in Kigali, in the Havugimana Israel guest Centre. This is where my placement officially starts and the adventure really begins. It honestly feels like weeks since I first stepped out of that plane and into Kigali. I remember the rush of heat and the darkness of the night. I especially remember the odd mixture of excitement and fear knotting up in my stomach. I had made it, after being on a plane for the first time. The lack of sleep and comfort outweighed by the excitement of being in a completely new atmosphere. It feels like a month since that night but in reality it has only been five days. I suppose that is what its like, getting used to a new culture and easing yourself in slowly.

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A view from my first plane ride

My first impression of Kigali was that it was much bigger than I expected it to be. The beauty of it hit me in the morning when I walked out of the Moucecore guest house and was struck by the most amazing view. Many buildings seemed to slant in the most organised way, the colours were all so rich and the sun already hot in the azure sky. I felt so blessed to be in such a beautiful place. From Monday (when our plane arrived) we had in country orientation with all the other teams which would be spread throughout Rwanda. It was wonderful, we were well informed about the culture, met our in country volunteers and even had language lessons from them too. They were so much fun, I thoroughly enjoyed embarrassing myself and over-pronouncing the words! It was so useful to get at least a basic grasp of the language. We also learned about the do’s and don’ts of both Rwandan and our own culture. For example in Rwanda you greet everyone whereas in the UK you barely look people in the eye when passing them in the street!

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Me and my well deserved ice cream!

On Wednesday we went to one of the genocide memorials in Kigali. It was probably one of the most humbling experiences in my life. I think you would need to go there yourself to understand that. All I can say is that I understand why people here don’t like to talk about it. The next day after some more orientation about the signs of culture shock we went out in Kigali with our team to learn more Kinyarwanda (the language here). It was such a blessed time, where we as a team really started to gel. I learned so much about my in country team members and even had an ice cream which cost….get ready for this…70p! I love ice cream here.

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Team Kigali (well minus Priscilla)

All too soon Friday was upon us and all the teams departed to their placements. It was a sad time but I felt I was ready to start our own placement. It took about 20 minutes in the car to get to Havugimana Israel guest Centre. We are staying in such a beautiful place, we have a kitchen area, a living room and the most lovely bedrooms. I even have an en suite bathroom. It probably sounds like I am living the life of luxury and I feel like I am but I know its only a matter of time until the hard work starts and I get to do what I’ve come here for. Saturday was spent with our team, getting to know each other and generally laughing a lot! We played games like Jenga and snap (well I watched) which seemed to be a favorite among In Country Volunteers. We had devotion in the evening which was lovely, I enjoyed reading the bible, praying and praising God with my team.

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The view from our placement guest centre

Today has been a little harder. I woke up feeling ill and emotional. In fact I cried quite a lot. But thankfully I had dioralyte (Sorry too much information), the support of my fellow team members and God. Its much later now and I feel fine, I am looking forward to going out into Kigali later with my team and further enjoying every minute of this placement, even the hard times.

Murakose (thank you) and God bless!

Sarah

God bless

xxx